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GALLERY: Novocastrians bid France au revoir after brilliant Matildas victory

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The Matildas have captured the hearts of a nation… and it’s no different here in the Hunter.

Thousands of people descended upon Newcastle’s Wheeler Place, Maitland’s Regional Sportsground and countless venues throughout the valley to ride the “highs and lows” of the Aussie girls’ magnificent victory in Saturday night’s quarter-final clash with powerhouse France.

Disbelief. Photo: Kaden Dube

Fingernails were chewed off and voices lost as the Tony Gustavsson-coached outfit prevailed 7-6 in a dramatic penalty shootout.

And, local photographer Kaden Dube was “jolly on the spot”, capturing all the emotion – from disbelief to jubilation – at Wheeler Place as the Matildas continued their sensational FIFA Women’s World Cup journey.

Proud. Photo: Kaden Dube

With the “green and gold” army hanging onto every kick and touch, neither team could be separated after 90 minutes, locked at 0-all.

It remained that way during extra-time, despite multiple opportunities.

Ecstatic. Photo: Kaden Dube

France, again, applied pressure through set pieces.

Aussie goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold was called into action with a stunning save from Vicki Becho on the edge of the area.

However, the Matildas hit back with chances of their own – in particular, substitute Cortnee Vine coming very close to turning in a cross at the front post.

Patriotic. Photo: Kaden Dube

In the end, a penalty shootout for the ages was required, adding to the theatre of the occasion.

As the crowd held its collective breath, Arnold made a number of crucial saves.

But, she, as well as Clare Hunt, had the opportunity to win it and could not convert.

Supportive. Photo: Kaden Dube

Then Vine, who would never have expected to be required – scored, sending Australia into celebration mode and the Matildas into the semi-final for the first time in history.

The team now tackles England at Stadium Australia, Homebush, on Wednesday 16 August from 8pm.

Jubilation. Photo: Kaden Dube

For more great images, follow @kaden_dube on Instagram.

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